A Sharpie line that an Inver Grove Heights resident drew on a map has become a viable option for a portion of the much-debated Argenta Trail road realignment project.

The City Council voted March 23 to designate “3A,” which an Argenta Trail resident created as an alternative to the county’s five designs, as its preferred realignment option for the project’s northern stretch.

After a monthslong fight to save houses that could’ve been taken out by the new road, the council’s decision is, for some residents, a victory. But it’s not a perfect solution. The road will run across a piece of land that the city and county will have to pay for. It’ll also take out a regional water basin and an existing house.

“It’s never nice to have to take people’s homes, but sometimes that is a reality,” said Council Member Rosemary Piekarski Krech. “There are things that happen all over our country, within the state, within this area.”

Residents along Argenta Trail learned in the fall that the realigned road could cut through their close-knit neighborhood. The realignment project has three components: south, north and middle.

People living on the northern stretch, which stood to lose between one and 10 homes through eminent domain, were the most vocal. They met in each other’s homes to organize and came to meetings en masse wearing bright yellow buttons that read “Save Argenta Homes.”

Kyle Van, who grew up on Argenta Trail and recently bought a house there, has been the neighborhood’s unofficial spokesman over the past several months.

“We’ve all spent far too much time in front of you saying the same thing,” he told the council at the March 23 meeting. “It’s very heartening that a compromise could be reached.”

Developer would lose land

Once option 3A switched from a Sharpie line to a real possibility, city staff met with stakeholders to hammer out a solution that would work for everyone.

Of the five realignment options that Dakota County provided, residents favored one that would run through a tract of farmland. But developer Jim Deanovic has plans to build houses there, and was worried about losing developable land to the roadway.

The county designs that affected the fewest houses would eat up more developable land.

Option 3A cuts a nearly 300-foot-wide strip along the western side of Deanovic’s proposed Blackstone Ridge development, for which the city and county will pay him about $2 million.

After the council vote in support of option 3A, residents poured into the lobby of City Hall to talk. At one point, a police officer had to guide the crowd away from the doors to the council chambers so that the people left inside could hear.

Van said he was feeling optimistic, though the council vote was just the first step.

“There’s still more that can happen, but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

The issue will go back to the city’s Planning Commission and then again to the council for final approval. After that, the Dakota County Board has the last word. Residents plan to stay involved throughout the process, Van said.

“Yeah, we’ll definitely all be there,” he said.

Inside the council chambers, the meeting continued. There was an agenda item about a license for keeping chickens, another about local Comcast service — nothing to keep the attention of the dozens of people outside, still wearing their bright yellow buttons.